Here’s the fraud: More than 800 colleges, which fly the flag of being test-optional, don’t require your child's SAT or ACT scores for admission consideration. They want you to think test scores are meaningless yardsticks to judge your child's academic ability.
But that’s exactly what they do. Whether you submit scores or not.
This is a marketing/money issue, as you read on....
First of all, colleges are only concerned about 2 things: their reputation and your money. So how does going test-optional work for their reputations?
When a college issues a press release that they no longer require SAT or ACT scores, that sends a warm and fuzzy signal to parents about the college. That means it can easily translate into getting that parent’s money because the parent - a prospective customer - is impressed that the college isn’t judging their child based on a simple test score.
So that college deserves special consideration by the parent. In fact, it places that school at the head of the line of other schools that require test scores.
Plus, going test-optional has a more economical aspect to it that really benefits the college. That is, instead of spending thousands of dollars on recruiting and advertising to boost their enrollments, all they need to do is issue a cheap one-time press release announcing that they are test-optional, and their new status will spread like wild-fire.
Typically, when a school goes test-optional, the number of applications will increase by as much as 20%. And here’s the sinister part of test-optional: Colleges with more applications also means more rejections. If a college can report more rejections to US News and World Report's College Edition, their rankings will go up. Plus, students who submit scores typically raise the school’s previous average by another 50 points.
If these colleges were actually honest - and they are not - they would require applicants to NOT send in their scores. But they won’t do that. Integrity? What's that?
When students don't send in their scores they are signaling to the colleges that they have something to hide. That’s how the colleges interpret non-submitters. That’s because colleges already know that non-submitters have scores that will be 100 points less than submitters. So it’s better to submit to colleges where you know your scores are in range with what the school’s average test score is. Not to submit is to risk rejection.
Would I advise a student to NOT take the tests? Not on your life! Applying to college has rules. And those rules require you to submit information about yourself. There are over 800 colleges that do not require the scores, but that means there are at least 2000 colleges that do require the scores. These are rules, and you have to play by the rules to get in. Not to play is a bad idea.
Submit scores to test-optional schools under these 2 conditions:
(1) you want to see if you can get in, but you don’t care if you are rejected (read: seriously, why bother?), and
(2) you want to be competitive in getting in and boost your chances of getting merit aid. Submitting scores is a tactic in the battle to get in, that is, you already know what the school’s average score is, and if your score is the same or above, your chances are good for being admitted.
If your scores exceed the school’s average, the school has the incentive to give you merit aid as an ethical bribe to get you to attend their school.
Again, here’s the fraud: colleges don’t require your scores, making you think they don’t count, when if fact they do.